Falling Temps And Rising Lake Levels Combine To Help Anglers
Written by Steve McCadams | Originally published 09/07/2011
Kentucky Lake’s fishing scene has seen dramatic changes in both temperature and lake levels since last week at this time. Lake levels have been rising while the temperature was falling. A significant change in temperature arrived earlier this week courtesy of strong north winds that really put a chill in the air and curtailed the Labor Day weekend activities for most anglers and pleasure boaters. Air temps at midweek were below normal and either set or tied record lows in some areas. Cool nights and below average highs during the day have influenced surface temperatures that should work in favor of anglers who were glad to say goodbye to hot and humid conditions last week that approached the three-digit mark. On Wednesday air temps were in the upper 50’s at night and struggled to reach 70 during the day, which saw surface temps fall into the 75 to 77 degree range for the first time since mid-May. As temps dropped drastically this week lake levels have surged due to heavy rains and flooding across portions of the TVA valley such as northern Alabama and southeast Tennessee where runoff entered the Tennessee River system that had been enduring drought conditions. Although not much rain fell in the Paris Landing area or Kentucky Dam region lake levels have risen fast for three days and are expected to be in the 358.9 range at the dam as the weekend approaches. Upstream at New Johnsonville lake levels will be slightly higher with projections for 359.1 range, which is above summer pool and some three feet higher than last week this time. The reservoir was in need of some new water and the flushing now taking place should see water conditions improve. Up until this week there had been a long stretch of hot and dry conditions that were beginning to have a negative impact on the overall fishing scene. Both bass and crappie anglers should see increased activity toward shallow water in the days ahead. The combination of cooler surface temps and rising lake levels this time of year should stimulate movement of baitfish toward shallow flats and backs of bays. Crappie anglers should see significant improvement in midrange depths of 9 to 14 feet in the days ahead as fish follow their forage toward shallow areas, leaving some of the deeper venues that have held sluggish fish for the last several weeks during the hot weather and stagnant water conditions. No doubt a few fish might move up even more and occupy some structure in the 5 to 9 foot zone, especially if cloud cover is present. Stakebeds and brushpiles should begin to give up more fish. Look for crappie to improve and show increased interest in small jigs or minnows fished in their locale as the fall transition phase may well occur ahead of time thanks to the recent cool snap. Bass were already showing signs of moving up toward shallow gravel banks as schooling shad were working along pea gravel shorelines in early morning and late afternoon periods. Tossing shad colored crankbaits and some topwater jerk baits such as Storm’s Chug-Bug, Rebel’s Pop-R, and Bomber’s Long-A were producing as were chrome colored Rattle Traps and Strike King’s Red-Eye Shad variations. Spinnerbaits and shallow running crankbaits will likely appeal to shallow bass relating to wood structure and docks or roadbeds. At the same time some main lake bass may move up to topsides of ledges and begin running shallow schools of shad. Seems there are always a few bass relating to the main lake ledges where so not all anglers will turn their back on the drop-offs where the jig and pig combos, big crankbaits, and Carolina or Texas rigs still have appeal. Some dingy water was present up Big Sandy but the overall area is clear. High winds had stirred up some shallow shorelines adding a bit of dingy water to certain areas. A few boats were working the main river channel and beneath the Paris Landing bridge for catfish with moderate success. Odds are current will enter the picture in the days ahead as TVA will likely begin pulling water as soon as the reservoir crests. Next week should see significant current on the Tennessee River and around island rims as TVA attempts to draw the reservoir back down for storage capacity and that may work in favor of bass and catfish anglers. Fall fishing conditions are here and seemed to arrive almost two weeks early as fall doesn’t officially arrive until September 23.
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